Orange and almonds cake (my way

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I could make a fortune with this recipe, but will share it with you instead. To enjoy when oranges are in season. Will only recommend you not to cheat about the organic orange. If you don’t  have one – one is all you will need –  then peel your orange before starting. It will lose in taste, but you will not end up eating baked pesticides and  waxes. My oranges and almonds are from the organic farm Agricortese, just in case you will learn something about the Ribera region.

  • For an average cake you will need:
  • one organic orange, cut into pieces eventually de-seeded
  • 50 gr of unpeeled almonds (organic as well)
  • 3 eggs
  • 250 gr plain flour or a mix of your choice
  • 250 gr of sugar
  • baking powder
  • small glass of sunflower or mild olive oil
  • small glass of milk or substitute

a mixer with blades – this is mandatory

Pre heat your oven at 180 C. Put the orange and the almonds in your mixer and blitz untill you have a paste. Add the eggs, the dry ingredients and then – with blades on medium speed – enough oil and milk to reach a cake consistency. Not too runny, but better runny than stiff. (a Michelin’s star recipe, I know, I know)

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The batter looks like this when put into your baking tin. As for this, do as you please… grease and flour the tin, line it with parchment, with reusable foil  – like me – or simply go for a non sticky tin. I have none.

Put into your oven and lower the temperature to 160 C and….   baaake (as in GBBO) for almost an hour. At the end you will have a soft, delicious cake, full of flavour but without fuss. No need for icing, powder sugar od layers of jam. Just this.

 

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Hišice and tutorials (hišica, hee/shi/tza, small house)

First day of fine weather after two long weeks. I’ve been struck at home more or less from the day I quitted my regular job, but I just enojed the feeling of having nothing to do – not really, but no one was putting me under pressure and this was so great I had to breathe in the whole thing. But both the dog and me need a good walk at least once a day, so off we went.


She is Pika (Peeka), means dot in Slovenian. When we took her from the shelter she had Daphne written on her adoption papers, but it was such a posh name for a tough girl like her, that we changed it. No one ever called her Daphne anyway, from the day she was left in the middle of a street, almost two years ago. 

On the right you can see a rare example of local shepherd’s hut. Once, well after WWI , they where a common sight in our area, now they are almost gone forever, just a pile of lime stones. This one was rebuilt by students from the University in Ljubljana. They came here with their tutors, including a visiting professor from the UK, and worked on the project during one summer. The result is a true pastirska hišica – literraly shepherd’s hut – in all its splendor. This one was quite big from the start, the others you can stil spot around are smaller. Big enough for the shepherd – the one and the only – to sit iside this structure made of stones and nothing else. In case of rain, storms or wind, he crowled inside and waited.


During the walk I tried to spot signs of the incoming Spring, but all I can find was a spot of red


The green you see is ivy so it does not count. If we talk of colour then here you have an example of the most shabby photographer of all times…. me! I was taking a pic of my lazy increasings, but only after the photo session (haha)I noticed that my nails reflected strange shades of orange, due to my habit of peeling oranges the primitive way. Poor me….

Gloves

It is about time to make dreams come true. Better said, to make dreams become written patterns for  other people to read and – possibly – knit. But what if the pattern you fancy does not mean anything to the so-called Wool tribe? (credit for the Wool tribe to be given to Mica and Jo the ladies behind EYF aka Edinburgh Yarn Festival) image

So here is my entry for the blackerpodkal, gloves in their glorious Cornish Tin blend, right from the stash. For me this yarn is unbeatable for gloves and mittens, but this is just me and my cold fingertips speaking. What really does bother me is if the cuff on the right, with its Estonian braid will be worth the (knitting) effort and beat the cuff on the left with its plain knit and purl pas de deux.

Any member of the Wool tribe is kindly asked to express a preference. it will be much appreciated by my poor me.

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I also have another issue… the finishing of the fingers. Shall I opt for the pointed version or go softly with round decreases?

No doubts about the thumb though. I’ll use the one with central increases, because you don’t have to think about right and left hand when in a hurry. You just must remember this when knitting in different patterns, because it could happen (I can tell you from personal experience) that you will mess the patterns and end up with gloves extravaganza.

Need an example?

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I can tell I was playing with them a lot…. the final pattern will have longer cuffs, a more agile thumb and an open grid on the inner part of the glove. In case you are interested, the pattern is a traditional one, used for cross stitching  in Austria, a textile museum’s find. I used to sketch down patterns seen visiting museums, now I can use the smart phone – when permitted – but still have my sketch books at  hand.

While waiting for some comments, I’ll go on cooking in my tiny kitchen with a view on an equally small garden where Spring was announced by the first blackbird.  image

On the wall a framed illustration by a dear friend Romeo Toffanetti

Turning pages

      Let us talk about Nadia. She is the bright lady behind Terra di Ciona. She used to work with pencils and colors, now she is growing organic food, baking delicious bread and superb croissants. So delicious that I put them on my precious antique embroidery to show off.


      Her was also the most sweety peaches I’ve ever had the fortune to turn into jam, cheese,  preserves and a cakes. She also delivers her goodies right to your front door, once a week. Quite a girl, I must say.

      Of course there is some knitting to talk about, too. The Tin(y) gloves are on their way. Will knit the fingers, then try the other glove omitting the yarn over braid and placing some good purl rows instead, just to see how it works out. So far I like both the texture and the colour match, even if I am not a purple kind of girl…. as I once told the owner of Kathy’s knits yarn shop in Edinburgh. I was honest, true, planning my future knitting,  but she had her tresses dyed in a fierce purple-pink shade, so I ended up like an idiot. 


      Gloves will be very welcome in the next few days. Freezing cold again. And windy. Knitting time bonanza.

      Take a pic of your roasting tin

      Taking photographs of your meals is a great task. Do you care about this? Answer 1: not much. Answer 2: I am veg. Answer 3: your desk is untidy. But the main  subject is not the pork. It is the knife. Because with a really good knife you can do magic. True. Tomorrow I’ll have a story to tell, about a designer who turned backer and will make my  day with her croissants.

      Knitting is easy, writing a pattern is not

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      From the very first day I was not with my mind at my desk at work, for historical record 1/1/2017, I started making patterns. Really. I let myself slip into my bed after a soothing afternoon watching Netflix or BBC – I am into Orkney being the omphalos of the civilisation on the Island and I love it – and then I wake up at around 3 AM whit a pattern written and knitted in my mind, The time I understand I’am in bed, the pattern is gone and so the knitting. Not so brilliant, but far better than waking up paniking about   missing news and even unfinished Uni. I was deeply into this for year. Now I am out, thank you so much.

      Anyway, after dreaming it I try to make something of my nocturnal visions. Somehow if you knit you put things together. All I’ve learned in those years knitting patterns written by talented designers stays with me. And then it bursts into something nice or totally wrong, but it grows. I did not invent nupps or twisted stitches or yarn over braids, but they sure can be used in zillions of ways. Like the bean leaf chart… Ubalehekiri as written in Folk knitting in Estonia by Nancy Bush – one of my first knitting book ever purchased. Have you noticed how many patterns are coming out right now with this almost forgotten design?  What I try to say is that it is amazing how you can use in a creative way something that already exists. As for what I am plotting right now, I’ll give credit to some amazing people I met in the last couple of years. They opened my eyes and they are written in golden capital letters in my heart.

      Now a bit of politics, if you don’t mind.

      As I have been working in a national media company for half of my adult life, I know what being politically correct means and I will not break the golden rule now. But I feel I have to make a statement: I am Slovene, but I will not take Melania under my umbrella. I am a woman and still will let her stay under the rain. Sorry Mel, it has nothing to do with your marriage, I just did not  digest your decision of changing your family name in Knauss because Austria was more fashionable than Slovenia…. You must understand me, dear soul, I was a Slovenian girl born in Italy when local fascists used to abused us after school. Violently, you know this or you had never heard about us ? (read ass if you please, it really does no difference, our ethnical minority is not doing well right now) . I have a Slovenian family name and I make other people pronounce it right. They do, you know?

      Well. This had to be said, possibly singing “democracy is coming to the USA” by my beloved and sadly departed Leonard Cohen.

      With all my love. Kisskisskiss in purple.

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      KnitTINg plans and other ThINgs

      Going big today: from my tiny laptop corner – whatever it could mean in my quite small house (being posh I’ll call it cosy) – I moved to the big PC in my son’s room.

      Pros: it is huge, has a widescreen on the wall, when typing the key buttons get flashed with a fainting purple light, if used in the right way the entire hub will cook dinner and wash the dishes, I am pretty sure of this!

      Cons: the screen is too far away for my lenses: I look like a mole trying to read the writing – literally – on the wall. I already feel a little dizzy  …  but I am cool! Gosh I am, with the purple disco light running under my fingertips.

      Since today we are the 19th, I was bound to cast on for the blackerpodkal on  Ravelry  and I did. Using Cornish Tin yarn from the stash I am knitting and writing a pattern for a pair of gloves. I had other plans, a cardi, but  I came to my senses in time and decided to play safe. Gloves could be useful in March….

      image         At this point of my blogging  I am just staring at this wide-screen and the dogs, all the three of them, are staring at me and at my performance (moving my neck like a crane, that is). They are good enough not to comment, just watching the purple light coming out from the black board on the desktop. Mah!

      Before I go mad, just a hint for one of your emergency suppers/dinners, those with tins involved – tin is the topic today, right?

      You start with plain boiled potatoes, organic whenever possible, slightly cooled and smashed with your fist. This is very important, it helps you release stress. You bet it was one of my favourite cooking technique apart from squeezing raw cabbage or coleslaw with my bare hands.

      image    You season the mess with turmeric, mustard, black pepper, flacks of sea salt (any will be good) and a good splash of olive oil. Adding some rosemary will do, garlic is optional and it will not do if you plan to go to the theatre after dinner. Put the roasting tin (again) in a really hot oven and let it roast for 20 min to half an hour, turning the potatoes at least once.

      Here they are, all dressed up, ready for the hob

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      Then it comes the tough part: serve Simmenthal meat (from the tin) in a way no one can spot it at first glance. To my excuse I can tell that I had those tins left from the last time our son was at home alone…. but, anyway, it is not bad at all. You put the meat on the serving plate and top it with the salsa you’ve prepared blitzing together two TBS of mayonnaise (not as professional as  Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time , but quasi),  capers to taste, 3 or 4 cornichons and another splash of olive oil. NB. Olive oil goes always in splashes, not spoons. In any case, do not use the same ratio that Nigella uses when adding wine to her dishes, half a bottle at the time, as I’ve noticed watching her on TV. Too much, you’ll be broken in no time, just a splash. And here you are, your hidden meal is ready. Best served to people really involved in a soccer match on the tv. No one will ask, just have enough potatoes if they ask for more.

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      Making plans (and order)

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      This is my book of yarns, wide open. It is time for me to buy another copybook, since there is no place left for my labels and yarn samples. Of course there is the stash section at Ravelry, but I am far to lazy to enter the data and all. Nor am I a very organized person. But in the mess you can see above, well…. there is a story. My knitting story. Some of those yarns are gone forever, the production closed, some were given to me by people I love, some were my big buying mistakes, some are my favorite. A whole copybook with more than 10 years of yarn purchases from around the world.

      Bit nostalgic, I can see it by myself. Boring, even. But the weather …. with “bora” today howling at 150 km/h really does not help. What you can do in stormy weather is making plans, for spring knitting if not for the #blackerpodcal. By the way, I love Louise Scollay and her groovy way to attract her listeners even when she is slapping them on the hands with an invisible stick. Because they deserve it. They try to do dirty businesses with honest knitters, they even dislike Louisa’s vocabulary. What the hell! She is right, would she use the word s*** when needed, who are you to dispute?  I really love her and I hope she will not mind if I’l try to embrace her in Edinburgh in March. I count on the fact that she will be busy with her podcast and will not slap me away. Or worse. Sure enough I will not waste my time chasing  Jared/the/cable/gloves when munching a sandwich or asking Justina questions (under 60 sec) in Polish. A colleague and friend Malgorzata gave me some useful hints, years ago… so maybe I am not telling jokes.

      But EYF is still far away. And in case any one of you know Louise in person, please tell her I am Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc in one. That is it. I firmly believe that a good lough is a highly consumable Galenic substitute. It does wonders when you are dealing with craps.

      A sad story with a happy ending

      This story is about the saddest fate of more than 4 kg of organic Sicilian lemons frozen to death in my garden during the big chill that hit us this week. In Trieste we have this lovely wind called Bora, silent most of the year, but when it blows it blows! 100, even 120 km/h in the elegant way of a “refolo”. No need for redbull cans here, I guarantee, you can fly without a drink if you are not trained… So the Bora came and with her (wind is a she chez nous) came some snow, lot of ice and temperatures below zero C. No need to tell you that the precious content of my part of this month’s collective buy of organic Sicilian citruses, oranges and lemons, became solid icy rock. What to do next? Oranges, once thawed,  were squeezed, but lemons ….

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      I decided to take them all in, let them stay in my sink for a while, then I washed them and peeled just the yellow part. I let it  dry out and now I have at least some organic zest for my cakes. The rest was cored, cut in small bites and covered with sugar then cooked for enough time to become a quasi jelly. Now it is in use as a syrup, lovely to mix with water and drink during the day. Just for the taste of it, it does not make you slim, or bright, or smart. But I could not let my lemons go. Plain and simple.